HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2017 – 12:00am
My mother, Ester Misa Paredes Jimenez, who died 20 years ago, has become a celebrity of sorts in social media lately, thanks to Ms. Vivian Velez who sought to malign me by saying that my mother, an anti-martial law activist, “has blood on her hands.”
Since she can no longer speak for herself, I would like to share two articles — testimonials, actually — on my mother and what she did for our freedom. The first is the write-up on her as a proclaimed hero of martial law by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani:
“JIMENEZ, Ester Dolores M. (Posted on October 21, 2015):
“Ester Dolores Misa Paredes Jimenez became involved in the anti-dictatorship struggle through her children, whom she had raised to be independent and to have minds of their own.
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“When her youngest son informed her in 1975 that he was intending to drop out of college in order to go fulltime in the underground, ‘She held my hand and said, “I am very proud of you.” Then she shed some tears. It was the very first time and, I believe, the last time, I saw her cry. It was also the proudest moment of my life. That moment would repeatedly come back to inspire me to move on in spite of the difficulties.
“She opened her home to underground activities, including the production of revolutionary publications, and weekly meetings of activists. Her home became a refuge for wounded revolutionaries or those in hiding. On two occasions, she personally drove a wounded guerrilla to the hospital for treatment.
“Jimenez was a widow who, at age 41, was left to raise and support 10 children by herself. Her first husband was Jess Paredes Jr., a lawyer and broadcaster who died in an airplane crash with President Ramon Magsaysay in 1957.
“When martial law was imposed, her children were grown and she was already in her mid-60s. Still, she became involved in urban guerrilla activities against the regime through the Light-A-Fire Movement, with her second husband Othoniel Jimenez. The members of this group were arrested in December 1979, among them Ester and her husband. After her release in 1981 she continued to visit him and the other detainees in the Bicutan jail to minister to their needs.
“Members of the Light-a-Fire group, including Ester and Othoniel Jimenez, were sentenced to death by a military court in December 1984 but the sentence was never carried out. After the EDSA people power in 1986 and the abolition of the Marcos dictatorship, the Supreme Court nullified their death sentences.
“Ester Jimenez was neither ideologue nor political leader, but she was a steadfast person who simply did what she believed was right. She gave generously of herself without expectation of reward or praise. Many came to call her ‘Mommy’ in recognition of her good heart and selflessness.
“She died in 1997 at the age of 81, after a long illness.”
The second article is by one her lawyers, the renowned Senator Rene Saguisag, who writes about my mother and the context she lived and worked in, in his own inimitable style:
“Light-A-Fire hurt no one, much less killed anyone. In a timid busabos society, I saw in it that not everyone would be like the Good Germans of Hitler’s time. Among its supporters is a prominent respected individual very much around today. Ready to give their all.
“I was privileged to be among the FLAG-MABINI lawyers, led by Tanny (Lorenzo Tanada), Pepe (Jose Diokno) and Joker (Arroyo), who helped the group of patriots. We left when the Kangaroo Court became blatant in its servility to Macoy. Uncompromising Tanny would even give us the silent treatment if we so much as spoke with Ani Desierto, whose classmate, Bing Padilla, was with us, including Jake Misa.
“I continued to monitor the proceedings, unofficially, and was present in Camp Aguinaldo when all the accused were sentenced to death, by musketry. They were ready to go, for the Motherland — ‘worth dying for,’ in their conviction. (Indeed lead accused Ed Olaguer said, when asked to plead, on arraignment, boldly said: ‘Gentlemen of this tribunal, I have taken up arms against this corrupt and illegitimate dictatorship!’)
“EDSA ‘86 led to their liberation. The Supreme Court ruled later that military commissions had no business trying civilians. Heroes all, including Ester Misa Paredes, the late tough mother of Jim and Paulynn, who I met last February 25 in the People Power Monument, where Prez Digong sent a wreath. Conciliatory, correct and proper, which I appreciate. Had he gone there, baka nagka-commotion.
“Prudence he displayed, not shown by the irresponsible provocateurs.
“Had I gone to Luneta, I might have been tolerated or I may not have been able to leave in one piece.
“What unites us should be stronger than what temporarily divides us, as family.
“Bully for Jim! And the Paredeses. His father perished in that plane crash involving President Magsaysay, whom he advised and wrote speeches for. Jess finished AB summa and law at the Ateneo and was No. 2 in the bar exams topped by Dingdong Teehankee.
“Knowing Jim, Paulynn and Ducky (President Cory’s spokesman, and sis Babsy, who I’d see in Camp Aguinaldo during the trial, with Sister Christine Tan) and Ester, I can only say, fruit indeed never really falls far from the tree.
“The trouble-seeking provocateurs had it coming from gutsy Jim. Good.
“‘Di lahat tameme.”
These are times that try men’s souls, and challenge our patience and ability to discern the fake from the real. Ms. Vivian Velez went out of her way to malign my mother. While my mother was living dangerously, making a stand against the Marcos dictatorship, Ms. Velez, known as “Ms. Body Beautiful,” was capitalizing on her ample assets here and abroad.
Her unexpurgated biography is something I’d like to read someday.
Or maybe not!